Singapore's Handling Of Double-Murder Case Proves Its Government Didn't Act in Haste

Singapore's Handling Of Double-Murder Case Proves Its Government Didn't Act in Haste

I would like to clarify some misperceptions in the opinion-page article ''The Unsettling 'Asian Values' of Singapore's 'Confucius' '' April 19. The author uses the case of Ms. Flor Contemplacion, who was convicted of double murder, to argue that the way the Singapore government handled the case and Singapore's judicial process reveal a potential rift within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations because of political and social differences.

In putting forward his case, the author asserts that Ms. Contemplacion was ''summarily executed'' without considering the ''new evidence,'' and that the Singapore government had acted in ''haste'' in meting out justice.

These assertions are incorrect. Contemplacion was arrested in 1991 and executed in 1995. In those four years, she was accorded due process of the law. Her case was heard twice in the high court, which found her guilty, and she made two appeals to the Court of Appeal, which confirmed the conviction. She had ample opportunity during the four years, up to the time of her execution, to recant her confession, but she did not do so.

The ''new evidence'' was statements by two Filipinos who had never come forward during the preceding four years to claim that she was innocent. The ''new evidence'' was thoroughly investigated and rejected because it was clearly inconsistent with the established facts of the case and the evidence produced in court. As such, there were no grounds to delay the execution.

The author's remarks characterizing Singapore as ''self-serving'' and the execution as ''unjust'' are totally unwarranted.

S.R. Nathan Washington

Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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